School Board Happy With How Students Scored On Tech Test

NEWARK – Worcester County’s seventh grade students made a strong showing last year under a new measure of technological literacy, staff reported this week to the Worcester County Board of Education.

A new mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act, the technological literacy requirement was first administered this past school year to students, teachers and administrators.

Worcester County students scored, overall, 60 percent technologically literate on the state assessment.

“I’m very proud of the performance of our kids,” said Dr. Richard Walker, assistant superintendent for instruction.

The measure is meant for eighth grade students, said school board staffer Judy Mills, but eighth graders students are subject to so many tests and assessments staff thought it best to administer the technological assessment a year early.

Students took the test the first week of December, Mills said, so students were not too many months beyond the sixth grade.

Multiple-choice questions in the assessment covered spreadsheet data, how to find trustworthy information on the Internet, the best way to post information, saving html documents, adding items to slides in PowerPoint, doing an Internet search with exclusions and adding footers to Word documents.

“The average score in the state was at a 50 percent level,” said Mills.

Just 11 of 24 schools systems in Maryland reached or exceeded the 50 percent mark.

Worcester County has already been assessing student and staff technological abilities with the Student Technology Proficiency Checklist and the Teacher/Administrator Technology Certificate Program.

The online student technological measurement used the National Student Technology Standards.

Mills said she and others in the school system would raise concerns over the questions asked at the state level, such as the inclusion of questions on popular sites like MySpace, which are not included in the Worcester County curriculum.

“It’s baseline data. We’re looking at making some changes at the consortium level,” Mills said.

In spring 2009, teachers and administrators were also assessed for technological literacy. The voluntary survey was meant to reveal areas for staff development.

With 58 percent of Worcester teachers responding, Worcester County showed a 91.5-percent proficient rate, slightly higher than the 89-percent state average.

“Overall, I was pleased more of our teachers participated than did not,” said Mills.

Administrators were also tested, based on the Maryland Administrator Standards. With 25 of 32 administrators in Worcester County responding, there were mixed results. Principals scored 91 percent proficient, with vice principals scoring 64 percent proficient. The state average for principals was 84 percent proficient and for assistant principals it was 71 percent.

Staff has some concerns over the future of technological literacy in Worcester schools.

“More of our kids have computers in front of them daily,” acknowledged Walker.

However, in the school system, Walker said computer access is becoming more sporadic with funding for new technology falling over the last two budget years.

“Two years for a computer is a long time,” Walker said. “The access issue is tremendously important…the state once again has put the measure in front of the resources.”